Ancient Air No. 39 (visiting Li Po)


Ancient Air No. 39

Climbing a great height, I look upon the four seas.
From heaven to earth, I can see forever.
The colors of autumn are muted by frost
blown by the coldest desert wind.
As it sweeps across the mighty eastward flowing river,
thousands of clouds billow from its force,
and the sun’s brightness fades
behind the endless cover of white.
Swallows and sparrows nest in the parasol tree,
and a beautiful phoenix finds shelter among jujube thorns.
I’ve come this way many times,
singing as I carry my sword on this difficult road.

Literal translations of classic Chinese poetry can be found at This is my interpretation of a poem by Li Po. The literal translation, as provided at, is as follows:

Ancient Air (39)

Ancient Air No 39.jpgClimb high gaze four seas
Heaven earth how vast vast
Frost blanket crowd thing autumn
Wind blow big desert cold
Magnificent east flow water
10,000 thing all billow
White sun cover elapse brilliance
Float cloud without certain end
Wutong nest swallow sparrow
Thorn jujube perch yuan luan
Moreover again return go come
Sword sing travel road difficult

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
(by Wang Shimin, 1666)
More Chinese interpretations can be found here.

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